Chamaerops humilis

Chamaerops humilis

Dwarf Fan Palm, European Fan Palm


Pot Size:



6 In stock

SKU: 12145824


Family Arecaceae
Originating from W & C Mediterranean

Chamaerops is one of the most variable and adaptable plants we stock; it looks at home in Mediterranean and spiky style planting schemes, or in lush exotic gardens. It can be grown as a rounded and dense shrub with foliage down to the ground, or pruned to have only crowns of leaves atop architectural trunks – which can be revealed by removing the lower leaves. This adaptability is a consequence of its suckering habit, meaning that it produces many shoots from the ground around the main central plant. Over time the plant will establish several main trunks with younger ones continually developing at their base, leading to the shrubby habit, if the plant is allowed to grow naturally. In this wild state, the trunks are hidden inside a mass of foliage and the palm will take on a mound-like form, with the mass of fan-shaped leaves giving it a bristly outline and the pleats of the individual leaves a ruffled and detailed texture.

The second style of Chamaerops that can be deployed into your planting scheme is very different, although this can only be achieved with plants that have started to develop a dominant main trunk, or several trunks. First, the older leaves on the most mature trunk are removed all the way up to the horizontal and upright ones near the top of the crown. This will reveal the structure of the palm and you can choose how many trunks you would like the plant to have, perhaps even just one, and remove the crowns you do not want. While they are still young, near ground level, you can remove them with secateurs or loppers, cutting them as close to ground level as possible. Larger trunks can be removed with a pruning saw, again as close to ground level as possible. Keeping your Chamaerops ‘clean’ like this is a job that will need to be repeated every year, or at least bi-annually, and takes a certain amount of care and dedication as these palms are fiercely armed with hooked spines along their leaf stems, or petioles as they are known. Stout gloves and eye protection should be worn when working with them.

One of the benefits of pruning The European Fan Palm in this way is that its flowers and fruits are revealed growing in a neat ring in the crown, just below the newest leaves, in the form of beautifully structured inflorescences. These branching structures bear hundreds of tiny individual bright golden yellow flowers, and on female plants, these are followed by large and shiny olive green fruits. The succession of flowers and fruit, which slowly dry and harden to brown seeds is usually hidden by the dense and bushy foliage of wild-growing Chamaerops. The stoutness of the inflorescence branches means that both flower and seed are held stiffly and horizontally away from the trunk, making a colourful and architectural collar to the crown of leaves.

As well as the different styles of growing this species described above, it has a wide genetic spectrum of forms in leaf shape and colour, absence or thickness of waxy white coating to the leaves – which gives them a silver colour, frequency and size of the petiole spines and also small differences in the sizes and shapes of the flowers and seeds. These different characteristics add to the range of the plant’s uses in different garden styles, with the more silver-coloured smaller and spiky leaf forms better suited to Mediterranean planting and the greener bigger leaved plants better amongst exotic plants.

Chamaerops are the second hardiest palm we can grow in the UK after, Trachycarpus fortunei. They are found growing wild on rough ground in the Mediterranean, making rough and low spreading clumps. They are extremely tough and have been known to slowly recover from damage to their crowns after extreme cold, generally speaking, they are hardy down to -12 or -15c and very happy in exposed, windy positions. They survive and grow steadily in the worst soils imaginable, but thrive best in deep sandy soil with ample moisture in the summer. Both the green and silver-leaved forms are?? happiest in full sun, but the green foliage is more adaptable to shade where the leaves may simply grow larger and in deep shade the leaf stems, or petioles, will become extended. The silver-leaved forms will develop sparse crowns with fewer and smaller leaves every season in the shade, gradually losing their silver hue.

Height and spread after 10 years 1.5 x 1,
Mature height after approximately 20 years + 2.5 x 2m
Potential mature height and spread after 25 – 30 years 3.5 x 2.5m



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